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Not all influencers have social currency

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[dropcap]C[/dropcap]onsumerism is fast becoming synonymous with the drive of the modern society. It has slowly but surely built a cycle of consumption, thus creating new channels to reach the mass market with new opportunities. As a result, products and services have never had it smooth when reaching their target audience.

The age of social media brings with it new and innovative ways and means to create demand with strategic partnerships that build on the brand’s objectives of reaching a niche audience while gaining social growth with followers and interactions.

The word “social media influencer” according to Wikipedia is ‘a form of marketing in which focus is placed on influential people rather than the target (mass) market as a whole’. Delving deeper, we find that www.influencermarketinghub.com says that influencers are “individuals who have the power to affect the purchase decisions of others due to their ‘real life’ authority or perceived authority, understanding, expertise or relationship of the product.”

This real world influence that these individuals have built for themselves with long hours of image placement, content generation and constant self-branding is an opportunity that is defined and curated by ones creativity or imagination to expose new social engagement mechanics.

READ: Young digital marketer who can sell any brand
SEE: List of top social media influencers in Kenya

Influencers are still not a staple for marketing brands in East Africa as they are in the West. But this is likely to change as it only brings opportunity for marketing professionals as well as young influencers to build their image until the day such opportunities can no longer be ignored.

With new products and services coming up in the markets in Africa every month, comes opportunities for such individuals to access an online community where the influencer can introduce the brand or product. The only problem that is currently being faced by influencers and marketing teams, is showcasing the value of such engagements. How is the return of investment on human capital tied to a social platform?

The first key to open this data ridden door is the idea that the consumer can learn how the product/service works easily by watching a video or reading a social post from the influencer who in turn gives their honest feedback. Just the thought of another individual doing the review of the product for you builds confidence in the product, tying this with a rewards mechanic for the fans or followers increases the chance for product uptake.

This in turn builds product reviews on e-commerce websites. Most people browse product reviews, comment sections, star ratings and videos before making a purchase decision.

Marcus Browne: The making of an influencer

Probably the most respected and viewed mobile device reviewer Marcus Browne aka MKBHD on YouTube, currently has 5.4 million subscribers (as of December 2017). On 6th December 2016 MKBHD partnered with OnePlus, a mobile device company, and Dbrand Skins a device accessories company, to give away 100 One Plus 3T smartphones, with 50 of them branded by Dabrands.

This activation simply calls out for the follower to start following the @MKBHD, @oneplus and the @dbrandSkins Twitter accounts to be eligible to win a device. The relative cost for this campaign is the internal production value of the Video by MKBHD, the 100 phones from One Plus and 50 Dbrand Skin covers. The shipping to any location will be managed and handled by Dbrands at their cost.

On the first day of this activation, @Oneplus twitter account garnered 86,763 followers. Which was an 11% growth, @dbrandskins grew by 90,307 followers (14%) and MKBHD grew by 65,623 follower from his (Dec 2016) fan base of 1,040,379 total fans which was a 6% growth.

OnePlus Twitter account garnered over 200,000 followers during this two week period. If taking the estimated cost per follower of $2.5 (2016), this is a value of $500,000 worth of followers from pushing a device give away that was worth an estimated $500 per device at the time, coming to $25,000.

The key take out here would be to know the return on investment from the sales done for OnePlus and Dbrands tied to this activation.

So what is the observable value that these brands are getting? Well, it comes down to their objectives which each brand including MKBHD has garnered. The objectives of the influencer should meet the objectives of the brand they propose to endorse. These similar objectives are important for both parties to ensure they achieve the maximum benefit of engagement as their core interests are aligned.

If a chef in Kenya who is a food influencer, such as Chef Ali Mandri, endorses products like Chevrolet in Kenya yet the product has nothing to do with food, their objectives do not really align, unless he cooks poached eggs while driving at the legal speed limit of 100KPH in a Chevrolet 2018 Camaro towards an organic farm in Naivasha, streaming on Facebook live! Or he actually drives a Chevy as a daily diver.

READ ALSO: Goobye influencers, hello ordinary guy memes

Another example is Katiti & Kith, two young women that talk about social and fashion issues in Kenya, are partnering with Angels Hair Collection, don’t have a paid strategy instead have high relevance with each other’s audience. Both their objectives resonate for influencer and brand. What brings about such relations and how does the brand identify their core target influencers?

For such fast growing digital industry like Kenya, the first steps for most brands is to identify their main influencers, and not how popular they are, but if the influencers objectives match the brand objectives, relevance, passion in the same field, and their core target audience. After that, their audience reach, personality and tonality can be measured to match the brand.

Optimise the campaign

Speaking for Kenya only, the micro influencer who has a small social following of 1000 – 5000, to the influencer that has over 20,000 followers, the brand ambassador, or celebrity that has over 100,000 followers online. They all have the ability to build the brand and increase its trust with the general population in the respective country and social channel.

What marketers in East Africa have to now figure out, is how to incorporate a short and long term influencer strategy. What key performance indicators should they focus on? How will they agree to measure success with the influencer and optimise the campaign to improve the approach. Following this basic methodology can lead to a more in-depth influencer strategy, which can be more rewarding for both parties involved.

(Irene Ouso also contributed to this article).

NEXT: Secrets to becoming a top notch marketer

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VICTOR MURITHI is the Digital Manager at HAVAS Africa Kenya. Email: [email protected]
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